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The Outsider Report

Hydra is under new management - A look at Age of Ultron Villains and New Plans

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I'd like to talk about these guys before the next set drops, and with a day to go, why not build some hype? I also realize that card images for AoU are not all currently working, but I am including the codes anyways so the post will fix itself once TRP fixes the issue. Who are we talking about and why? Villains of course. I want to do a quick review of every villain card in the Age of Ultron set before the set releases to protect people from trading away amazing cards that they would have otherwise paid no attention to. As always, I will focus on these cards from a full constructed point of view. Let's jump right in by talking about the biggest villain of all in the set....

Captain America: Super Soldier
While active, prevent all but 1 damage to you from any action or character abilities.

That's right, Captain America. Strolling on in here with his big fancy shield, ruining our plans to burn you to death with green goblin and black manta. As an easily accessible common card, he's terrorizing our organization of hardworking super villains! Luckily, we've been equipped to deal with him from the beginning, and contrary to what people believe, his existence does NOT destroy our burn strategies. His existence does, however, force us to change our styles to aggro/beatdown with a bit of control and burn on the side. If the heroes are going to throw a super soldier at us, we'll respond by beating him up with our deadly superlazers, and whatnot. He is the reason certain villains will be more useful than others from here on out.

On to the villains.

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Fist Character, Villain Affiliation

Ultron: Bringing Order 5
When fielded, capture an opposing character die with a fielding COST 0 (return it at end of turn).

Ultron: Peacekeeper Gone Wrong 5
When Ultron is blocked, capture all blocking characters (return them at end of turn).
Global: Pay to force an opposing character to block a character of your choice this turn

Ultron: Creation 6
When fielded, capture a target non-Villain character die (return it at end of turn).

Ultron: New World Order 6
While Ultron is active, the first time you capture an opposing character each turn, Ultron deals 3 damage to an opponent.

Ultron is alright in most of his incarnations. Bringing order is probably his weakest, but it's decent removal. It refers to a specific die with a fielding cost of 0, and does not refer to total fielding cost, so it can be safe to assume it can capture any die rolled on a face with a free fielding cost. Creation is a little more generic in it's capture abilities, but still doesn't particularly stand out. The more interesting options are Peacekeeper gone wrong and New World Order. New World Order creates a steady burn engine with the ultron drones or even imprisoned, but still suffers from damage reducing cards like human paladin's global or the common Captain America: Super-soldier. Peacekeeper gone wrong, however, is interesting. While not being the villain version of spider man: webslinger that I'm sure people would love to have, he does negate any chance of your villains being knocked out while attacking, allowing you to trigger "when x attacks" effects such as the common cheetah. At a 5 cost with decent stats, he's a force to lead the villains into battle, but his ability is not the greatest. His global could be useful for abusing overcrush with Thanos however.

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Bolt Chracter, Villain Affiliation

Vision: Phasing 3
Gets +2A when blocked by a non-Villain character die.

Vision: Ultron's Spy 4
When fielded, deal 2 damage to a non-Villain character die. If that would KO the character, put it in its Used Pile.

Vision: Negotiator 4
Teamwatch - When you field a character from the same team, deal 1 damage to a non-Villain character die.

Vision: Punisher 4
If your opponent has a non-Villain character die active, Vision gets +4D.

Vision, unfortunately, suffers from a common affliction in the Dice Masters Universe. Potentially useful abilities on a 4 cost character. 4 cost sits in an awkward position, where die stats are rarely worth the cost, abilities are moderately useful at best, and it can only be affected by bewd's cost reduction once, reducing overall cost to 3 energy and a ko'd character. Phasing, at a 3 cost has decent stats, but getting +2A when blocked is moderately useful at best if your goal is to pair him with overcrush, but if your strategy revolves around overcrush in constructed, Vision is the wrong card to look at. Punisher is easier to trigger, but again, only works in niche ant man strategies where he is overshadowed by better cards. +4d makes him a nearly unkillable blocker and almost immune to green goliath damage, but the 4 cost ruins him. Ultron's spy is great, but susceptible to constantine negation and a high cost. If I were to be forced into playing one, negotiator would be the best of the bunch. The teamwatch ability is remarkably easy to trigger, and can clear a field of weenies for you, but he's still too expensive, and ultimately will be overlooked in favour of better villainous board clearers such as Dr. Doom: Victor or Ultron: peacekeeper gone wrong.

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Bolt Character, Villain Affiliation

Baron Zemo: Helmut J. Zemo 3
While Baron Zemo is active, you may pay 1 to reroll any number of Action Dice during your Roll and Reroll Step.

Baron Zemo: Master of Evil 4
Each time you use an action die, Baron Zemo gets +2A.

Baron Zemo: Thunderbolt 4
Each time you use an ACTION die, you may pay 1 to put it into your Prep Area instead of your Used Pile.

Baron Zemo, quite clearly, has action oriented abilities. Suffering from a high tfc of 5 and lackluster stats overall, his goal is to be a support character that you purchase 1 or 2 of and leave on the board. Helmut J Zemo, gives you an extra reroll for action dice, which isn't bad for a 3 cost, but not great overall. Master of evil, on a good day, could get a +4A boost to his attack, which isn't awful, but relies on rolling too many specific dice on the turn you have a killshot available to be effective. Thunderbolt, however, is a sleeper. Right now, action dice don't play a huge roll in villain strategies, and he will see tertiary play in action based teams. However, one of the upcoming Trinity War OP cards, The Outsider, reads:

The Outsider: Trinity War 2
Draw a die from your bag. If it is a Villian die, field it on its level 2 side without paying its fielding cost. Otherwise, put the die into you Used Pile and if it was a Sidekick die, put this die in your Prep Area.
Global : Target Villain gets +2 attack. You may not target the same Villain more than once per turn.

Even though it has a built in cycling effect, zemo could be used to guarantee the cycle ability regardless of the die you draw. Combined with the ability to use zemo in conjunction with actions such as millennium puzzle, polymorph and house of mystery, you can pull off some nasty control combos. Thunderbolt is definitely worth keeping an eye on over time.

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Shield Character, Villain Affiliation

Bucky: James Buchanan Barnes 4
* Bucky gets +2A
** Bucky can't be blocked by Sidekicks.

Bucky: Cap's Sidekick 5
* If unblocked, double Bucky's Attack.

Bucky: Soldier 5
* KO any character dealt combat damage by Bucky.

Bucky... Ummmmmm.... Not much to see here. His bad-touch, personal bubble invading rare version, "soldier" could be potentially useful, but as a burst ability only, there is no reason to not just play Solomon Grundy instead. Cap's sidekick might be nice if he wasn't so expensive. Skip him.

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Mask Character, Villain Affiliation

Enchantress: Amor 6
When fielded, deal 1 damage to your opponent for each of their Avengers character dice in the field.

Enchantress: Manipulator 6
When fielded, your opponent chooses one of their Avengers dice. Capture that character. Your opponent takes damage equal to its printed fielding cost.

Enchantress: Hypnotic 7
When fielded, capture all Avengers character dice (return them at end of turn).

Enchantress, also, not terribly good. Let's think about her from a villains perspective. If you're aiming for world domination, you want to invent a weapon that allows you to take over the world, not just the east coast, tri state area, or your neighbour's backyard. She has some relatively strong avenger's specific hate, but she's expensive and sits on a tfc of 4 with "meh" stats for what she does. If avenger's become a tier 0 threat down the line, maybe we'll look at her again. Don't expect to see her in constructed unless your opponent likes the character a lot, or you play patch avengers all the time and people are getting tired of your nonsense at OP's.

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Bolt character, Villain Affiliation

Jocasta: Titanium Body 5
The first time Jocasta is damaged each turn, you may pay to buy an Action die with cost 3 or lower.

Jocasta: Wife of Ultron 5
The first time Jocasta is damaged each turn, draw a die and put it into your Prep Area.

Jocasta: Patterned After Janet 4
The first time each turn Jocasta would be dealt damage, instead deal that damage to your opponent.

Jocasta. Common? Ignore it. Uncommon? Interesting form of ramp, allowing you to make use of things like magic missile globals, or nasty boy. Expensive, but could be worth a look for aggro teams making use of summoned skull's global to cycle face-smashers through your bag and into your prep quickly. The super rare though. Oh boy, the super rare. If you can imagine it, Jocasta can get it done for you. Nasty boy global for 3 damage done directly and 3 damage done to an opponents character? Check. Super strong blocker that will burn your opponent? Check. Shenanigans with Mjolnir? Check. Add some solid defensive stats on a 4 cost character, and you have one of the big cards to look out for this set. Even Captain America isn't strong enough to stop Jocasta's reign of terror once you realize that destroying the Captain is easy if you're prepared. Don't overlook this card if you love villains. Otherwise, you're more than welcome to trade it to me.

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Mask Character, Villain Affiliation

Kang: The Conqueror 6
While Kang is active, you gain an additional reroll during your Roll and Reroll Step.

Kang: Rama-Tut 5
When Kang is blocked, you may remove him from the Attack Zone.

Kang: Time-Ship 6
While Kang is active, your opponent must pay 2 life to reroll during their Roll and Reroll step.

I've noticed some trends within dicemasters, and so have a bunch of other people. First, purchase costs, fielding costs, and stats seem to be increasing and balancing out overall. Also, rares are becoming better, and worth being the "rare" version of a character, for better or for worse. Common Kang has a nifty ability, but it's much better suited to something like a 3-4 cost character. The stats are awful as well, so he's an easy skip. Uncommon Kang get's distracted easily (see what I did there) and let's you pull back whenever there is a risk of being knocked out during the attack step. Only 1 problem. His stats and purchase cost are too wonky to make him a worthwhile purchase. The rare however, gives you a control effect, similar to an effect seen on a previous professor x card. Control, as worlds has proven, is a strong thing to build around, and anything that opens up the control builds to villains is great in my eyes. Keep a lookout for him.

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Bolt Character, Villain Affiliation

Loki: Loki Laufeyson 5
While Loki is active, once per turn you may pay bolt to deal 1 damage to a character. That character loses all of its abilities until end of turn. You may use this ability whenever you could use a Global Ability.

Loki: Trickster God 5
When fielded, roll an enemy character. Deal damage to any target equal to the number of energy symbols or field cost rolled.

Loki: Agent of Asgard 6
When Loki attacks, you may pay to deal 2 damage to each opposing character.

The common Loki. THAT COMMON LOKI. I love it. I love it so much. I love it so much that I want to build teams around it right now. I'd like a ruling on exactly what it means by "losing abilities" as to whether or not this is the same as losing all card text like constantine or prismatic spray, or if global abilities are still usable. Wow though, At a 5 cost with great stats and a powerful ability made to shut down anything in it's way, expect to see a lot of the lovable Loki. The uncommon is usable, but better burn options are available, and the rare is too expensive for a weenie-clearer that cards like Venom or Dr. Doom do better. I'd definitely recommend considering the common in almost any villain strategy however.

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Mask Non-basic Action

Loki's Scepter: Magic 4
Place this die into your Field Zone. You may move it to your Used Pile to deal 3 damage to a character that was fielded this turn whenever you may use a Global Ability. Send this die to the Used Pile at the end of your opponent's turn.
*/** Deal 4 damage instead.

Loki's Scepter: Mind Control 4
KO the enemy character with the lowest fielding cost (your opponent breaks ties).
* You choose if tied.
** Return this die to the Prep Area if your Loki is active.

Loki's Scepter: Piercing 4
Place this die into your Field Zone. You may move it to your Used Pile to KO an enemy character that did combat damage to you and prevent the damage from that character. Send this die to the Used Pile at the end of your opponent's turn.
*/** Return this die to the Prep Area if your Loki is active.

Since we like Loki so much, we may as well talk about his scepter, available today as a non basic action card. Thanks to red dragon and thousand dragon, actions are becoming more and more viable, so let's see what these have to offer. The common scepter allows you to put a little bit of hurt on opposing characters, but isn't terribly strong. The uncommon comes equipped with a clause allowing you to prep the scepter after each use if your Loki is active, but only on one burst face. The ability to ko a low fc character isn't terribly good once you realize that it's expensive sidekick-bait. The rare is the most interesting however. Sitting around for 2 turns, it allows you to negate combat damage and knock out whatever dared hit you. It also boomerangs into your prep area on 2 burst faces. This card is very interesting, and potentially very useful for control strategies. Unfortunately, it doesn't stick around indefinitely like the millennium puzzle, but it's worth hanging on to for testing.

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Fist Character, Villain Affiliation

Red Skull: Johann Schmidt 4
If Red Skull is KO'd, your opponent chooses: either Red Skull deals 2 damage to your opponent or you gain 2 life.

Red Skull: Embodiment of Evil 4
If Red Skull is KO'd, your opponent chooses: either they draw one fewer die during their next Clear and Draw Step or you draw 2 dice from your bag to your Prep Area.

Red Skull: "Hail Hydra!" 5
Teamwatch - when you field a character who shares an affiliation with Red Skull, spin down all of his characters one level or spin up all of your character dice one level (your opponent chooses).

Red skull is interesting. He's been getting a lot of flak from all over the place because his abilities allow your opponent to choose whichever punishment is least inconvenient for them. When it comes to the common, they may be correct if it is ruled that your opponent is able to choose the life-gain option when you are still at max life. Plus, when ko'd abilities on a tfc 6 character are iffy when they are not game-enders, espcecially since his stats are low. He could be paired up with the common sinestro who will reduce him to a tfc 3, but that's still some setup. The rare however, has not been getting the attention it deserves. Red Skull "Hail Hydra!" has a teamwatch ability. So whenever you field a villain character, your opponents side either get's weaker, or your side get's stronger. That, is an easy to setup, lose-lose situation for your opponent that you can trigger every turn thanks to our friend the Blue-Eyes White Dragon and his global. Don't be so quick to dismiss him, the rare Red Skull is here to help beat your face in.

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Mask Character, Villain Affiliation

Thanos: Courting Death 7
Thanos costs 2 fewer to buy while you are at less than 11 life.

Thanos: The Mad Titan 8
Thanos cannot be blocked.

Thanos: Infinite 10
Whenever one of your Villains deals combat damage to an opponent, put an Infinity Counter on Thanos. Thanos dice cost 2 less to purchase for each Infinity Counter on Thanos.

Thanos is simple. He's big, he's mean, and he'll win the game for you in all his forms. The common becomes a 5 cost at 10 life and below, but isn't terribly great because you could easily lose by the time you can take full advantage of it. More of a draft game-ender. The uncommon is fun. For 8 energy, you too can have a 9 9 unblockable monstrosity. Strong, but too expensive. The super rare is where he really shines. The first 10 cost Character since Phoenix Force, Thanos has overcrush to ensure that he is never effectively blocked. He also brings some infinity stones with him. Any time you deal combat damage to your opponent, his die becomes cheaper, and cheaper and cheaper, to a minimum of 1. Realistically, you will be purchasing him at a 6, or 4 cost, but there's nothing wrong with that. Cycle him quickly and win quickly. I've been wanting a huge, beater villain for a while and Thanos perfectly fits the bill. Definitely look out for him.

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Fist Character, Villain Affiliation

Ultron Drone: 01000100 01101001 01100101 2
Capture any enemy character blocking Ultron Drone (return it at the end of the turn).
Global: Pay 2 fist to force an opposing character to block a character of your choice this turn.

Ultron Drone: 1 of a Million 3
Capture each enemy character blocking Ultron Drone, and deal damage to the defending player equal to its fielding cost (return it at the end of the turn).
Global: Pay 2 fist. Choose an opposing character die to block a character die of your choice this turn.

Ultron Drone: Swarm of Destruction 3
If this character is KO'd, one of your other fielded characters may capture an opposing character (return it at end of turn).
Global: Pay 2 fist. Choose an opposing character die to block a character die of your choice this turn.

I love the ultron drones. The common, is a 2 cost villain with fairly large stats, but offers easy ramp and retaliation burn. The matchmaking global that forces certain characters to block specific characters can be powerful for triggering it's abilities, and ensuring your big guys get through unblocked. The uncommon is a very, very powerful burn effect that you can abuse thanks to force block abilities such as goblin attack force's global, which provides a forced blocker for 1 measly fist energy. This way, you could spend 2 to force a double block on ultron drone, and deal up to 6 damage straight to your opponent. And the rare. While not as powerful, it's a very economically friendly version of Solomon Grundy, which can remove pesky attackers or blockers from your opponents side of the field on command thanks to bewd's global. I'm honestly torn on which one to play, but you can be sure I'll playtest them all. They're all great cards!

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Shield Character, Villain Affiliation

Wonder Man: Simon Williams 3
When you have less than 11 life, Wonder Man loses Villain, gains Avenger and +1A and +1D.

Wonder Man: Ionic Energy 4
When you have less than 11 life, Wonder Man loses Villain and gains Avengers. Characters KO'd in combat with Wonder Man are placed in the Used Pile instead of the Prep Area.

Wonder Man: Movie Star 4
When you have less than 11 life, Wonder Man loses Villain and gains Avengers and can't be blocked.

Wonder Man seems hell-bent on being the worst villain in the game. His tfc is high, stats are decent at best, and his only skill is running away and defecting whenever the going gets tough. When he does manage to keep his hydra affiliation, he doesn't do anything beneficial for the team. I like common Vixen more than wonder man, because at least common Vixen is brave enough to accept what she is, and never run in the face of danger. Bad Wonder Man. Bad. I rate him -4 points out of 20.

So there you have it. Each villain character in the upcoming Age of Ultron set. While they don't interact well with each other in a limited setting, they are powerful forces in constructed. With the set releasing tomorrow, many stores are getting ready for special release day events. We'll be hosting an Age of Ultron Rainbow Draft this Thursday to celebrate. How will you make use of all these new villains? Anything you think I missed? Let me know in the comments.

And pierce the heavens with your drill!
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